Cycling Volcán Colima


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Volcán Colima or Colima volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in the Americas. During my visit it took on an almost humanistic form. That of a chain smoker. Smoke would constantly bellow from the top of its cone. Every hour or so it would clear its congestion with an all mighty cough. Spewing ash and molten rock many kilometers in the sky.

I completed a ride around the volcano which consisted of roads that were either steep uphill or steep downhills. It was exhausting. Witnessing the eruptions were my only distractions for the day, at least 5 of them that I could see.

I spoke with several locals. They all told me I should have been here a couple of weeks ago when it was violently active. Ash fell on many of the surrounding towns. It looked violent enough to me.

The road to Volcán Colima was not easy. From the town of Tequila I headed south and found, to my surprise, a rail trail. An old railway line converted into a cycle path. I followed it, not knowing how far it would go or when it would end. The great thing about rail trails is the lack of any steep grades. I cycled maybe 50km on the rail trail and even stopped for the night part way along in a farmers field.

On route to the town of Tapalpa, the steep backroads were covered in cobblestones and so steep I had to push. It was hard going. The advantage of cobblestone streets is I can cycle at the same speed as cars. A rarity.

Close to Volcán Colima I stopped at the town of Zapotitlán for a second breakfast or first lunch. There was a fiesta in town. It consisted of men on horses, mules or in cars stopping to ask about my travels. Their slurred speech and beer in hand made me question if it was safe to continue cycling. Should I join them and cycle tomorrow or make some distance now. As I couldn’t understand most of them and the waitress at a restaurant thought I might make a good husband I decided to leave.

The state of Colima is the 8th Mexican state I’ve visited. Already I’ve visited Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sinaloa, Chihuahua, Durango, Zacatecas and Jalisco. I wasn’t there for long as it was part of circular route around the volcano.

I made camp in a field of sugar cane 10km from the volcano. I set up my tent and gave myself a quick wash to rid the dirt and sweat I had accumulated. Just as I finished putting my clothes on a guy with a gun appeared. Had he been watching me. I hope not.

I walked towards this stranger with the gun and introduced myself. Daniel was visiting his family who lived across the road from my bushcamp. He lives in Arizona.

‘What are you hunting’, I asked.

‘I don’t know, anything’, he said.

‘Is it ok for me to camp here’, I asked.

‘Yes of course, no problem’, he said.

I spent the night waiting to see if there was an eruption between sleeping. Nothing. Not one explosion that I could hear. Maybe I just slept through them but as I was 10km away I thought I might hear them.

I lingered in camp for a while in the morning hoping to see some action but again there was nothing so I set off. As I descended the terrain started to resemble that of a rainforest. More climbs and descents. Also known as Pointless Ups and DownS or PUDS.

Briefly I stopped in the town of Tuxpan to taste their famous tacos. The owner of the taco stand was curious about my trip. They had not seen touring cyclists before. After hearing my story I received my tacos for a 20% discount, I was gracious.

I camped in a field of Sugar Cane. At 2am I was woken by a flash. I sat upright in my tent, I thought somebody was outside. Bang. Thunder. Within seconds strong wind was buckling and bending the sugar cane all around me. Then the rain started. I cursed not setting the tent up properly. The rain continued all night and most of the next day.

ruta creativas
Rail trail south of Tequila
Jalisco Mexico
Typical Mexican Pueblo
ruta creativas
ruta creativas
cycling around volcan colima
riding the cobblestones with front suspension is a bonus
cycling around volcan colima
its steeper than it looks
volcan colima eruption
1st eruption i witnessed
volcan colima large eruption
from 14km away
volcan colima eruption
on my navigation app, pocket earth I’m 10km from the volcano, this is where i camped
small eruption on Volcan Colima
view of an eruption from my tent
volcan colima
view of sunrise from my tent
volcan colima photography
my favourite photo, i saw volcan colima in my rearview mirror
cycling backroads around volcan colima
descent from camp in the morning

Next : The Lost City of San Paraangaricutiro

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About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Chile.

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14 thoughts on “Cycling Volcán Colima”

  1. Hi, long time follower and recent traveler! I am heading down through Baja and mainland Mexico beginning in January, and hope to incorporate parts of this route near Nevado de Colima after visiting Guadalajara. Just stopping by to say thanks for the post and data. Are there any nearby attractions you can recommend or other tips you have for this area? Besides Tuxpan tacos!

    • Thanks for the kind words. All of Mexico has been awesome. If I was to go around Volcan Colima again I would probably cycle to the top of the volcano next to the active one. I can’t remember all the names but it is quite clear on the maps of the area. Check out this video from Ihoan Gueorguiev. There is also a road that goes to the top, I’m not sure where the single trail would be. Good luck and have fun.

  2. Thank you for continuing to blog. Really enjoyed learning about so many new things in this entry. The condition of the trail trail is surprising.

  3. Oh my! The beautiful, vivid colors in your posts make me want to get outside! Anywhere, as long as it is outside. What an adventurous life you live! I am heading to Mexico, Belize, and Honduras on a cruise in a few days and am anxious to see a new part of the world. I’m looking forward to cave tubing in Belize, snorkeling in Mexico, and ziplining in Roatan followed by a blissful few hours on a beautiful beach. Your comment about the waitress made me laugh out loud.

  4. Terrific! Thank you for sharing your story and great photos. I grew up near Tuxpan, in the town of Zapotiltic (different from Zapotitlán) and have been to Tuxpan many times. Made me wistful to return. Would love to summit the Nevado de Colima (the volcano’s neighbor) some day.

    • I stopped to eat the famous tacos of Tuxpan, very nice. I cycled past Zapotiltic but did not enter the town. A very beautiful part of your country. I thought of climbing Nevado de Colima but bad weather threatened. I will climb other volcanoes.


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